I was 15. I went three days without food. I wanted to die, wanted to walk in front of a car, just have it be over.
Depriving myself of food was just one more way for me to bury the pain. Heck, I’d tried guys, drugs, booze. None of those worked. Neither did starvation. I finally ate.
I grew up Catholic, even accepted Christ at my Fellowship of Christian Athletes club. But my mom just got sicker. None of us knew at the time that she would die. In fact she told us she wouldn’t.
But they knew. My dad was a doctor trying to raise seven children and take care of a small town’s medical needs, while his wife, a nurse, withered from a disease similar to Lou Gehrigs.
Back and forth they went to Mayo Clinic and to the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. It felt like us kids were on our own. The pain got worse, so the numbing got more.
She was still in her bedroom when I ran out of the house onto a muddy dirt road, listening to my Madonna cassette, hearing the sound of my own soul screaming while it rained. “God isn’t real. If he were, he’d be here.”
I left for college and went wild. Parties and pass-outs. Half-suicide attempts and hallucinogens.
Eventually I married a good man, had babies, and found a church.
But my soul still believed God wouldn’t show up when it mattered.
Have you been there? Asked God to give you that mate and it didn’t happen? Pleaded with God to come through on the job offer, only to receive the “despite your wonderful qualifications” notice. Found yourself infertile while all your friends were having babies?
You go to church. You go through the motions. You wonder if God is mad at you? Or just doesn’t see you.
You want to claw down the picture in your friend’s house. The one that says, “God works all things together for good…” You wish they made caves you could rent with walls thick enough so no one could hear you wail.
I’ve been around long enough and seen enough answers to know this:
God always shows up, just not in the way we imagine.
If you’ve read any of the Old Testament, or seen Disney’s The Prince of Egypt, you probably know the story of the Israelites. They’d left Egypt, the land of their slavery, and wandered in the desert for 40 years before finally coming into the promised land.
Do you remember the story of the manna? It’s in the book of Exodus, Chapter 16. The Israelites said to their leader Moses, “Why didn’t God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat? You’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death, the whole company of Israel!”
So Moses talked to God.
And God spoke to Moses, “I’ve listened to the complaints of the Israelites. Now tell them: ‘At dusk you will eat meat and at dawn you’ll eat your fill of bread; and you’ll realize that I am God, your God.’”
That evening quail flew in and covered the camp and in the morning there was a layer of dew all over the camp. When the layer of dew had lifted, there on the wilderness ground was a fine flaky something, fine as frost on the ground.
The flaky stuff that covered the ground was manna. Here are some of its qualities:
- When the sun grew hot, it would melt
- It was like coriander seed, white
- It tasted like wafers with honey and like cakes baked with oil
- It became foul when they collected too much at once
- It was abundant – it came down like rain
- Moses said, “It is the bread God has given for you to eat.”
Pretty strange stuff huh. When the Israelites first saw it they asked, “What is it”
Their question became its name: man hu. Manna means literally means, “what is it?”
I’ve heard this before. God’s provision is literally a question. But this week I read something that flipped my brain upside down. In Michael Card’s book John: The Gospel of Wisdom he says,
The word manna is a fascinating Hebrew word. The particle MA represents a question mark in Hebrew. The particle NA is an explanation point. Manna might be literally rendered ‘? !’
Maybe that helps you. It does me. God’s provision is likely to show up in a way that makes you scratch your head, but in a way that is important.
My mom has been gone for 33 years. I went to grad school and became a Licensed Professional Counselor.
Do I understand what it’s like when someone sits in the couch at my office and talks to me about depression?
Yes! I am equipped with tools and years of seeing how God healed and redeemed my story. Did I see that coming? No.
Friend, you wonder, “God, are you there? Do you see me? Can I trust you?”
I promise, He does.
His answer looks like ?!
What the heck? You were doing that all along!
One set of footprints? That’s when you carried me!
How will I survive? You’re using this!
Someday we will all fully understand God’s provision in our lives. For now, let’s trust Him.
I am God, your God
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.
She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."